Catching for the Right Cause
By Phil Wolf
I have been a life-long Central Florida resident and a competitive bass angler since the mid 1970’s. My kids and their friends all laugh at me when I mentioned that I have been fishing the Kissimmee Chain of lakes since before it had Hydrilla – a true statement. In all that time I have fished as a co-angler in the back of the boat with many of the best anglers and have also competed as a boater for more than 40 plus years. Meeting and fishing with other anglers have taught me plenty, mostly that anglers are “Big Hearted”!
Recently one of our angling brothers has had a tragedy in his life. At the young age of 75 angler Wayne Yohn’s home caught fire and burned to the ground losing all of his life- long belongings and the roof he lives under. Upon hearing the news via social media while at an event on Lake Okeechobee, Tournament Director Charlie Wynperle and the owner of Toho Marine Joe Clements made a quick decision to put on a benefit Bass Tournament to raise funds for angler Wayne Yohn. If you have been around the tournament trail on the Kissimmee Chain, it is likely that you have seen Wayne. At 75 yrs, young he still competes and catches giant bags of bass week after week. Wayne has been fishing the Kissimmee Chain for over 50 years. Tournament Director Charlie Wynperle has been a weighmaster at Camp Mack for over 40 years and said that Wayne has weighed in more 5 bass limits over 30 lbs. than any other angler around. Recently he and his partner weighed in 5 bass for over 44lbs, yes over an 8 lb. per bass average. If you have competed in any of those events Wayne has surely taken some of your money before! He is a true living legend on the Kissimmee Chain.
With the Fundraiser event scheduled for Sunday November 14th the group of volunteers had to go to work quickly to get the word out about the event. Tournament Director Charlie vowed that he could get 50 plus boats signed up and fishing for event. The group put out flyers everywhere, posts on all social media platforms as well as word of mouth from the local bass fishing community. I was asked to fish with my youngest son Josh and quickly responded yes. I first meet Wayne when I was 16 yrs. old in the mid 1970’s, Wayne was in his late 20’s and already catching huge bags all over Central Florida, but he loved fishing Lake Kissimmee. Local business and sponsor’s put up all the tournament prize money for the top 3 teams as well as 1st and 2nd big bass prizes for a total of $4,500 bucks. Other business donated items for raffle prizes that covered 3- 8 ft. long tables and too many items to list. Josh and I went down early on Saturday to check some areas for the next days’ event. There was a weigh-in going on at Camp Mack for an annual Rotary Event. After speaking with several of the anglers many mentioned that they were planning on fishing the event the next morning to help support the cause. We arrived about 5am at Camp Mack to get an early boat number only to find a long line of boats in front of us, great! We got registered with boat 26, first boat in the 2nd flight. Charlie’s hopes of getting 50 plus boats to fish on short notice was looking good, a total of 64 boats registered to fish. With a 3:15 check-in time we idled out for take-off at first light hoping of catching a decent 5 bass limit. Our first stop did not produce any bites, so we moved to another spot about 7:45 am. Within a few casts on the new area, we started catching bass. By 8:30 we had small 5 bass limit of about 6.5lbs. We caught a good one weighing 6.8 lbs. about 9:15 culling our smallest fish, then another about an hour later at 5.75 lbs., and eventually culled the rest of our fish with the smallest at just over 3 lbs. On the very last cast before we had to leave to return to the weigh-in Josh caught a 4.5 lb. fish culling the 3-pound fish. Thinking we had 20 lbs. plus we were pretty happy thinking our bag might make the top 3. As luck would have it that last fish put us in the top spot with 21.67 lbs. for 1st place. God is Good! All the winning anglers donated our prize funds back to Wayne and the event, when all funds were counted over $20,000 bucks were raised to help a fellow angler in need. A good start towards getting Wayne a new place to call home.
If you are reading this andwould like to donate and help a brother angler out please contact Phil Wolf at Phillip@coastalanglermagazine. com or 407-790-9515 or Toho Marine Outdoors at 407-892-3200, be sure to tell them you want to donate to the Wayne Yohn Fund. Happy Holidays.